A meta-analysis for neurobehavioural effects due to electromagnetic field exposure emitted by GSM mobile phones

Occup Environ Med. 2008 May;65(5):342-6. doi: 10.1136/oem.2006.031450. Epub 2007 Oct 10.


Background and objective: Numerous studies have investigated the potential effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by GSM mobile phones ( approximately 900 MHz to approximately 1800 MHz) on cognitive functioning, but results have been equivocal. In order to try and clarify this issue, the current study carried out a meta-analysis on 19 experimental studies.

Design: Meta-analysis.

Methods: Nineteen studies were taken into consideration. Ten of them were included in the meta-analysis as they fulfilled several minimum requirements; for example, single-blind or double-blind experimental study design and documentation of means and standard deviation of the dependent variables. The meta-analysis compared exposed with non-exposed subjects assuming that there is a common population effect so that one single effect size could be calculated. When homogeneity for single effect sizes was not given, an own population effect for each study and a distribution of population effects was assumed.

Results: Attention measured by the subtraction task seems to be affected in regard to decreased reaction time. Working memory measured by the N-back test seems to be affected too: under condition 0-back target response time is lower under exposure, while under condition 2-back target response time increases. The number of errors under condition 2-back non-targets appears to be higher under exposure.

Conclusion: Results of the meta-analysis suggest that EMFs may have a small impact on human attention and working memory.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cell Phone*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / radiation effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reaction Time / radiation effects*